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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Everdell: Bellfaire – Starling Games – Review

When Everdell: Spirecrest and Bellfaire were on Kickstarter last year, I got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Spirecrest, but I had no idea what Bellfaire was about. 

Jeremiah & Kara


Everdell: Bellfaire - Starling Games - Review 1

Theme and What is it?


It’s been 100 years since Corrin Evertail founded the quaint woodland city of Everdell, and to commemorate this milestone the King and Queen have organized a special festival. There will be pie eating contests, architectural competitions – merchants from across the forest will bring their wares to sell and trade at the market. There will also be a competition between the greatest city builders in all of Everdell (that’s you), to see who can best meet the expectations of the King and Queen.

Everdell: Bellfaire is an expansion for Everdell that adds a series of modules that players can add to the base game, with or without any other expansions.

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What does it add?


When Everdell: Spirecrest and Bellfaire were on Kickstarter last year, I got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Spirecrest, but I had no idea what Bellfaire was about. Turns out, it’s a collection of nice little add-ons and modules that players can mix-and-match with Everdell (and any other expansions) to add variability and variety to an already fantastic game. Some of the most notable additions that come with Bellfaire are:

Market: The market module adds an open-circled clearing where players can send their workers to gain resources and cards, or trade resources and cards for points. We didn’t use the market very much in our 2 player game, but it opens up the board quite a bit in 3 and 4 player games, by adding more spaces that players can go to find hard-to-get resources like resin and stone.

Player Powers: This is probably my favorite module of them all. Before, the critters you chose to be during the game just depended on whichever meeples you were feeling that day. With this module, the different meeples have unique abilities! Some critters will be really good at growing berries, others will excel at drawing extra cards, and still others will find ways to increase the yield of their production buildings. This great little module adds potential for new strategies as well as some excellent asymmetry.

Garland Awards: When playing with the garlands module, a garland tile will be placed onto the Bellfaire board. The tile will say something like “have the most constructions”. This means that, at the end of the game, whichever player has the most constructions in their city will get extra points from the King and Queen of Everdell. It’s a really simple addition that adds some extra competition and light player interaction.

Bellfaire Board: Another addition in Bellfaire that doesn’t add any extra rules, is the Bellfaire board. This is just a board that replaces the Ever-Tree. It’s flat, which makes it easier for players behind the tree to see the meadow, and it has new spaces for some of the new modules you could choose to include like the flower market, garland tile, and trading market.

Special events and forest locations: Bellfaire includes 4 new forest locations and a handful of new special event cards which add some more variety to the base game. The special events in the base game are usually really specific like, “have the undertaker and the barge toad in your city”, but the special events that come with Bellfaire are more generic ( have 5 common constructions) which makes it easier for players to accomplish them.

Player Boards: One of the most basic, but nicest things that Bellfaire includes is player boards where players can store their workers and resources! It helps keep things organized, and the boards look fantastic. The artwork on them is double-sided so there are a lot of different habitats you could choose for your city – forest, lake, pond, desert… they’re beautiful, and they don’t add any extra rules.

Flower Festival event: Bellfaire adds a new event tile that players can claim by having one of each of the 5 types of buildings in their city.

Bellfaire also adds 2 new critter types (cardinals and toads) and rules for playing with 5 or 6 players.

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What does it fix/ break?


Fix: The new special events are much easier to get because they’re more generic. Instead of having to have a teacher, chapel, and barge toad (or some other specific combination of cards) in your city, now you just have to have “five production buildings” or “4 unique constructions”. This makes the special event cards more appealing and they get claimed more often.

Break: There’s a rule that says when you play with player powers you don’t gain an extra worker in the spring. I’m not sure why they made this modification, but we found that it makes the game super tight, and slows everything down because for the first two seasons of the game you only have 2 workers to use. In the future, I think we’re just going to ignore that rule.

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Do I want this?


If you’re someone who likes Everdell, I’d say yes – you want Bellfaire. The additions and extras that come with it add that much more beauty and variety to this incredibly charming game. The player boards help keep things organized, the market opens up the board in 3 and 4 player games, the player powers add asymmetry and replayability, and the garland tiles add a nice competition element. Any of the modules can be mixed in to a regular game or left out, which just increases the replay value even more.

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Do I need this?


I don’t think anyone ever needs an expansion, but if you feel like your Everdell plays have become a little samey or stale, I think this would be an excellent option to help breathe some fresh life into the base game and reanimate your love for Everdell. If you like the base game as it is, and you feel your experiences with Everdell have been complete and satisfying as they are – that’s great! You probably don’t need this expansion, but it’s there if you decide you want it.

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Everdell: Bellfaire is a delightful expansion that adds some excellent replayabiliity and new potential strategies to an already fantastic game. If you’re a lover of Everdell and you’re looking for a simple way to shake things up a bit with more depth, asymmetry, or strategy, definitely consider Bellfaire.

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Everdell: Bellfaire - Starling Games - Review 13
Jeremiah & Kara Clark
Shortly after we got married we were introduced by our next door neighbors to designer board games. And we were immediately hooked! Since then we’ve been able to play hundreds of different games over the years, and we still can’t get enough. It’s been great having a hobby that we can both share together, and it’s a blast to explore all the different types of games, especially since we each have our own unique tastes in games.

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